Brad's Reviews > A Single Man

A Single Man by Christopher Isherwood
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's review
Sep 13, 2009

it was amazing
bookshelves: in-the-shower, queer-lit, to-read-again
Read from August 01 to 07, 2010

I love being made to feel, and I love it even more when that feeling is passed to me through literature, and I love it more still when that feeling is completely unexpected, and I love it most of all when it leaves me on the edge of weeping joyfully.

I had zero expectations for Isherwood's A Single Man. I knew nothing about it when I plucked it from the bookshelf, but I saw Colin Firth's face and my adoration (along with his Oscar nomination for his leading role in Tom Ford's film adaptation, which I still haven't seen) made buying it an unavoidable impulse.

Then it sat on my shelf for months.

Last week I needed something late at night, flipped it open and found myself on the dedication page: "TO GORE VIDAL." That was good enough to get me started, but Isherwood's gorgeous writing ripped me into the flow of his book. At first I was able to put it down after dipping into the beauty of his words. But each dip made me need more. Today I drowned in Isherwood until I was finished.

The story of one day in the life of a fifty-something English prof is unremarkable. It's just a day. He's just a man. But there is such beauty in that day and that man, in the way that he lives, in the way that he finds easy joy in mundanity, in the way he avoids preciousness and self-pity, in the way he lives in the now for the now, that I came to love George in a way I haven't loved a character for a while. I know that some of my love for George is narcissistic. I connect with most every element of the man (even if we're not the same). But I'm okay with that. I love myself. I can admit it.

What I mean to say, I suppose, is that this book was for me even if it may not be for you. And that's okay.

I know I'm going to be back reading this book a few months from now, and I'll let you know if it holds up (I sure hope my response isn't just the mood I'm in), but I'm not terribly worried. I have a feeling Christoper Isherwood is really as good as I feel he is.
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